Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk does things differently than the heads of other car manufacturers. Case in point, he just made a quick European tour with stops in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway where he, along with CTO JB Straubel, held lengthy question and answer sessions with Tesla owners, reservation holders and other interested parties.

Now, we recognize that the California company has a significantly smaller customer base than traditional automakers, making these sorts of events more logistically easy (see also: Fisker). Still, the effort is a refreshing change from scripted press conferences, and allows Tesloids to voice their concerns and criticisms to the exact person with whom the buck stops. It's also good for Tesla, in that it gives new ideas for future improvements a chance to reach the ears of those best placed to implement them. We out here in the wider world like these sessions because they give us a bit of extra insight into the firm's progress and future plans.

So what are some of the things we can expect from the electric automaker in the coming months and years?
  • Version 6.0 software is a few weeks away and includes real-time traffic information as well as increased suspension functionality, like lowering and heightening on command.
  • Supercharger production is maxed out and installs are happening at a rate of around five per week.
  • Superchargers will soon pump power at an impressive 135 kW rate, but will plateau there.
  • An AWD Model S will be coming, perhaps around same time as the Model X.
  • Bigger battery pack options may arrive as soon as next year.
  • The new giga-factory for batteries could bring costs down by at least 30 percent, ideally 40 percent and will produce about 30 gigawatt-hours worth per year.
  • After ramp up, volume production of Model X is expected to begin around April 2015.
  • To improve comfort, there will be a seat modification available in the near term, and a different seat option available in a year (or so).
  • Battery swapping between Los Angeles and San Francisco should be online in a few months.
  • The company has analyzed energy usage in production process and claims energy payback happens in less than 10,000 miles. May release white paper on this soon.
For lots more tips and tidbits (home energy-storage unit, anyone?) scroll down to watch video of the Netherlands exchange. The Norwegian event – held in a theater because of the crowds – can be viewed at this link.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 90 Comments
      Lancelot
      • 10 Months Ago
      Tesla = Made in USA = #1 Thank You President Barack Obama! God Bless!
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Lancelot
        Again. President Obama has had almost nothing to do with this company. This is great though: Tesla = Made in USA = #1 And very true.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Tesla was a way for any politician to say that they were being fair in the way they gave out the money.
          jsongster
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          He had as much to do with this as he did Solyndra, which Bush invested in. The money was declared lost in Obama time. Nasty Republicans on the board ran that one into the ground.
          Technoir
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Actually you can really thank Obama...and Bush...for helping jumpstart Tesla. Others politicians were bashing Tesla as a "loser company", remember that candidate in 2012?
          JakeY
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Obama's administration approved and administered the Tesla loan, so to say they have nothing to do with the company is false.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          I'm just trying to stay fair in my statements. I used to hammer RW fanatics over this all the time. It would be hypocritical to do an about face just to give Obama some credit.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          I reiterate, since I've had this same discussion with extreme right wing fanatics that want to try and spin it into a negative, that the Bush Administration created the ATVM loan program and created the criteria for approval. Sure the Obama's DOE made the final approval but just rubber stamped what had already been determined to be the official rules. Nothing against Obama but the reality is that politics and politicians had very little to do with Tesla's success other than the loan. I've also mentioned before that the ATVM loan program was really just a way to prevent Ford from filing for bankruptcy like GM and Chrysler. It would look bad politically if all three car companies crashed and burned so the Bush Administration came up with this end run to give Ford enough money to avoid bankruptcy. Tesla got their loan because they happened to fit the rules that were used to create the program. They only got a token amount of the money compared to how much was available since they weren't what the loan was created for.
        thecommentator2013
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Lancelot
        Say thanks to Elon, not Barack.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @thecommentator2013
          I agree. Thanks to the US government for giving Tesla the loan that got them rolling along and has completely paid back. No specific politician deserves any of the credit IMO.
      Jim1961
      • 10 Months Ago
      I have a friend who has reserved a Model X. Recently, she received a letter from Tesla saying her Model X will be delivered in December of this year.
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Jim1961
        She must have been one of the first. They already have over 15K reservations for the Model X and only expect to make around 2K this year. Tesla has been lowballing their production numbers but delaying their production start times. The end of 2014 should be pretty good now since the Model X delay has already happened.
      purrpullberra
      • 10 Months Ago
      On second thought I'm even more excited about the battery capacity increase news since this should be the first step in the process of gradual, incremental upgrades to the ModelS pack, the next few are supposedly foreseeable, that will ultimately end up in the next-gen ModelE battery pack. Basically it would be the second hard data point we could put on a graph to gauge the progress Tesla are making towards that goal. I'm hoping any joint venture for the battery factory lets Tesla run the place as opposed to Panasonic. Paying for their tech is far preferable to Panasonic being in control since they have a lot of other business and the bosses have other 'masters', like consumer electronics buyers' whims. It doesn't matter if Tesla becomes their largest 'partner' or whatever they are officially. There is no way to get around the fact that a Panasonic run plant is not singularly beholden to Tesla and its needs even if the contract says the factory's batteries are for Tesla alone. Ownership is key. And since their is no way to change those facts it is of great importance that Tesla be the sole owner. Japanese business culture is impenetrable and that can't be forgotten (and it isn't racist or bashing them to say so). That is the nicest way I could put it. I overlooked the importance of the potential for a battery pack increase in my original posts but you guys reminded me.
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @purrpullberra
        I believe the Model E battery is already around. It just isn't made in huge quantities yet. The giga-factory should change that.
      • 10 Months Ago
      I am buying one of these! It will be a couple of years before I can afford it (have to at least get 1 kid through college first) but I am definitely buying one. Kudos to Tesla for being the one to make a real electric car.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 10 Months Ago
      Truly boner-worthy news.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Yea, did some one put Viagra in my coffee?
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        http://www.dezeen.com/2013/07/04/stella-solar-powered-family-car-by-eindhoven-university-of-technology/ Domenick posted this below. It's the car the guy talks to Elon about. It should give Dan a woody. :)
          danfred311
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          It's old news and I have already stated why it's wrong.
      Spec
      • 10 Months Ago
      A bigger battery pack? Seems like complete over-kill to me but a very good idea for them to do because they can get an even bigger premium from the very high-end buyers.
        purrpullberra
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        I can see it being a very pertinent real world issue for some owners. They need to get to a destination a bit further than they can currently get to. Or they want to do it in the winter as well as the rest of the year. Or they want to use AC and have 5 others on board. Not everyone wants a LWB Suburban but some that do genuinely need it. It doesn't mean that the ModelS has problematic range issues just that Tesla has learned quite a few customers would like a little more range. I suspect that Tesla has learned that they were very conservative in what they allowed the largest battery pack to do and so most of the increased range comes from better control and more sophisticated programming to use the current pack and not by changing the pack construction or battery make up. Maybe some of the increase is from changes to the pack itself.
        m_2012
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Same physical size likely, just more available energy. They have hinted at 100KW pack already. Dont expect the price to go down, but technology and specs to get better, just like computers and phone.
          pmpjunkie01
          • 10 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          @ Spec: Same people who "need" AMG's Aston's and what have you...
          Spec
          • 10 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          Oh I understand what it is . . . but who really needs a 300 to 350 mile EV? You are just paying thousands extra to save 20 minutes on that once a year long trip. If you really drive long distances often then get a PHEV.
          Echo Delta
          • 10 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          @Spec yeah! and who needs 64gb on their mobile phone? 500mb should be plenty for songs, apps and pictures! I'm kidding: one may not need 100x improvements in battery, but driving between superchargers at 250 miles apart at a speed of 160km/h (100mph) with full-on heating or AC is a stretch. All you need is an improvement of 50% to 100% and you can tolerate higher Wh/mile drives for longer. Yes, for those few times a year. Also fleet cars and taxis that get rented out for a full day may benefit from this added capacity (and urban battery swaps).
      • 10 Months Ago
      Will wireless recharging work on Tesla vehicles. I read city busses in South Korea drive over a section of road to charge their batteries and the city bus never has to stop to charge. I'm sure the DOT will have to do that, but if they did that would be awesome.
        m_2012
        • 10 Months Ago
        No reason why it couldn't with minor updates. That's more of an infrastructure problem.
        Domenick
        • 10 Months Ago
        During the Amsterdam presentation, Elon and JB send they've decided not to pursue inductive (wireless) charging at the moment because, with 10% losses, it's too inefficient.
      HVH20
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'm curious to see if they increase the total power output on the AWD version of the model S and if the current chemistry can handle is since he is using high energy cells not high power.
        Ricardo Gozinya
        • 10 Months Ago
        @HVH20
        They've already got plenty of power. A much more useful goal would be reduced weight.
          HVH20
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Ricardo Gozinya
          More power combined with more traction is always better. An AWD version will make a killing in Colorado. EV's dont fall on their face at elevation, aluminum doesnt rust, and weight adds for better traction in the snow. 'Merica
          DaveMart
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Ricardo Gozinya
          With no change in energy density for the batteries and no plans to go carbon fibre like the i3, they are not going to be able to reduce weight. In fact if they are offering bigger packs as they say they will the weight will go up for the cars where those are fitted.
        DaveMart
        • 10 Months Ago
        @HVH20
        Why would they need to increase the power? An AWD electric has none of the complications with drive shafts and so on of an ICE. The present power output split between the two axles should be fine. Maybe they intend to use two electric motors, I haven't seen their design.
      Lancelot
      • 10 Months Ago
      Model S + AWD + Larger Battery +600HP = Godspeed Made in USA = #1
      Taipei Racer
      • 10 Months Ago
      One change I'd like to see is the ability to charge the car from either the front or the back. I see many people park their cars backwards in the driveway just so that they can charge from where the power plug is. That's rather inconvenient.
      purrpullberra
      • 10 Months Ago
      All this sounds like great news. I'm not surprised to hear about most of it however the seat changes are news to me. I'm still waiting to hear about in-house high-end personalization since it would *rake in almost pure profit* without a doubt, if not many millions a year. Can they afford to turn a million or two in profit away? It must be too far down the list. Maybe it's mentioned in the video, I haven't watched yet. Exciting news on the battery 'giga-factory'. I believe it makes sense for Tesla to go all in with the effort to get the best batteries at the best prices ASAP. There is too much momentum that would be squandered if they don't go for it. There are tons of folks who have the ability to help Tesla finance and produce everything required for the factory to get going full speed without taking away too much of Tesla's cash on hand. Especially when amortized out over the life of the factory. Nothing else is as important as making sure the world knows that Tesla is really going to be able to build AND SELL 100,000's of cars a year. It is the only way they will get better discounts on parts that now eat up profit, by convincing suppliers to scale up production on Tesla's behalf. If the biggest obstacle, affordable battery supply, is overcome there will be nothing but positive signs for Tesla's future.
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @purrpullberra
        And also, there are a lot of uses for batteries besides the cars. It's already been mentioned the giga-factory will be a joint venture. We can be certain of Tesla and Panasonic. Who the others might be is still up for speculation.
          purrpullberra
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Responded in the wrong place. Should I blame IE11 or legal weed? :-)
      Dave D
      • 10 Months Ago
      More impressive every time I learn more about them.
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